There have been quite a few RPGs starring Mario over the years. Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi together account for about 11 games (not counting remakes). It all started only with Super Mario RPG, which never got a sequel. But did you know that was the plan?
The remake of Super Mario RPG is now in stores, introducing a whole new generation to Mallow, Geno and Smithy’s cronies. The original game is widely loved and often cited as one of the best games for the SNES. Yet a sequel was never released.
No time, find another
Only there were plans for a second Super Mario RPG. A game by that name was even announced in 1997, a year after the first game came out. But that game immediately looked very different from what fans of the first part expected.
The original game was developed by SquareSoft (now merged into Square Enix) and Nintendo had approached that company again for a sequel. But right around that time, SquareSoft was very busy with Final Fantasy VII and didn’t have time for Mario RPG 2. Of course, it didn’t help that the relationship between Nintendo and Square was somewhat damaged because Square was going to make Final Fantasy VII exclusively for PlayStation, either.
So the Super Mario RPG 2 shown in 1997 was made by Intelligent Systems, the studio behind Fire Emblem. Mario fans probably also recognize the name as the studio that makes Paper Mario. That is no coincidence, as that is the name under which this version of Mario RPG 2 eventually appeared.
Was Paper Mario ever a sequel to Mario RPG?
That’s not to say that Paper Mario ever actually picked up where Mario RPG left off. The earliest images of the game already show that it always had the look we know from Paper Mario. Also, characters from the original Mario RPG game are nowhere to be seen.
It seems plausible that this version of Super Mario RPG 2 was only called that because it was the second Mario game in the RPG genre and not because it would ever actually be a sequel to Mario RPG. The name Paper Mario was chosen late for this game, possibly to ensure that there would be no expectation that Geno or Mallow, for example, would be in the game.